Recently, the Playa del Carmen Seaside Rotary Club helped to kick off the holiday season for local children with a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Division I college basketball players from the United States compete for the 2014 Cancun Challenge. Seaside Rotary was responsible for transporting over 300 local public school children to watch the games, meet the players and enjoy all the action!

The Cancun Challenge is an exciting tournament that takes place every year during the week of Thanksgiving. The resort’s convention center ballroom is converted into an arena providing fans a special close-up view of the games. Once arriving to the hotel, teams and fans are treated to a spectacular all-inclusive rock star vacation with games, practices, unlimited dining and drinks, world-class entertainment, and fun all in one location. Local children were provided with transportation to the event, as well as free event access, made possible by Triple Crown Sports and an all-you-can-eat buffet generously provided by Hard Rock Hotel.

The event was broadcast live on CBS Sports and recently recognized in the Dec. 1, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine as one of the top 16 tournaments that give teams the opportunity to get off campus and get to a unique destination before the start of conference play. The Cancun Challenge was listed No. 2 with high praise going to the fantastic facilities and beach of the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, host site of the tournament.

Volunteers from Seaside Rotary were on hand to greet the children and assist event coordinators, Bonnie and Brent Amick from Triple Crown Sports. A few lucky Seaside members were invited to sit courtside and make sure the floor surface was clean and dry and safe during game play…no small task during this aggressive championship.

Also at the tournament were representatives from Kicks4Kids and KKiS (Keeping Kids in School). Fans, friends and families of the teams involved were asked invited to help out the children of Playa del Carmen by bringing down pairs of new sneakers to support Kicks4Kids and backpacks and school supplies for KKiS. Many team members made donations and their generosity was very much appreciated by both organizations.

We are certainly looking forward to the 2015 tournament. We hope to be able to involve even more young people next year and connect with youth basketball teams in the region. Thanks to all the Seaside Rotary members who participated in this event. Also, thanks to our new friends Bonnie and Brent Amick from Triple Crown Sports and to the amazing and accommodating staff at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

For more official tournament results and information about the 2015 Cancun Challenge as it becomes available, visit http://www.cancunchallenge.net/.